Red Wine Risotto with Yellow Squash

Risotto has an almost mythical status.  You might think that you can only get a good risotto from a restaurant.  In reality, risotto is actually pretty easy to cook, and after a few times you’ll be a pro.

I had completely different plans for this risotto, but after some ingredient issues I had to come up with a new plan.  I didn’t have any white wine, and I didn’t feel like going for some, so I decided to use some Pinot Noir that I had lying around.  I couldn’t find any pancetta, so instead I went with some seasonal yellow squash.

Mise en place, or getting all of your ingredients ready beforehand, is particularly important with this recipe.  You don’t want to be chopping herbs or grating Parmesan when you’re supposed to be stirring.


  • Arborio rice
  • 1 cup yellow squash, diced (I also removed the yellow skin)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, diced
  • 1/2 cup of onion, diced
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 4 cups of chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup of dry red wine
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp oregano
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan-Reggiano

Heat the chicken stock in a small saucepan.

In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the squash, onion, and garlic and saute for about 5 minutes.  You just want them to soften up, you aren’t trying to brown anything.

When they’re softened, add the butter.  When it’s melted, add the rice.  Toast the rice in the butter for 4 or 5 minutes, or until the rice starts to look translucent.

Pour in the 1/2 cup of wine, and start stirring.  It only took a minute or two for the rice to absorb the wine.  It was parched from the roasting.

When the wine has been absorbed, pour in 1/2 cup of stock and keep stirring. After the stock has been absorbed, add another 1/2 cup of stock.  Keep stirring.  This is the risotto mantra.  You add stock and keep stirring.  You’ll start to see the rice developing a thick, starchy sauce around it. 

About 2 cups into the process, add the oregano, salt, and pepper.  You will want to keep tasting it and adjusting the spices the rest of the cooking time.  You may need more or less of the stock.  I actually only needed 3 1/2 cups.

When you taste the rice and it seems to be al dente, add the Parmesan cheese and stir it together until it’s melted.  I was considering also adding some diced tomatoes, but I changed my mind.  Then you’re ready to serve.

All in all, this took about 20 minutes. It does require constant attention.  The red wine didn’t make much of a difference to the taste, but did change the color.  You could just as easily use white wine in this recipe.  The resulting risotto was creamy and cheesy.

Have you ever made risotto?  How was your experience with it?

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